what is Intel XeSS

What Is Intel XeSS and How Does It Work? Explained!

With high-end graphics cards getting more expensive each year — sometimes enough to bankrupt most folks — holding onto your dear old GPUs for a while longer seems more and more like a great idea. You may not get the most frames per second in your favorite online games, but you will get by, wouldn’t you? Now, if only there was a way to get better gaming performance without shelling out a ton of cash. Luckily for you, Intel has you covered with XeSS (Xe Super Sampling), which can give a considerable boost in FPS and (possibly) image quality.

What is Intel XeSS: Explained (2023)

XeSS, or Xe Super Sampling, is an AI-based upscaling technology designed by Intel to deliver a better, smoother, and more consistent gameplay experience. But how does it work, and how big a jump in performance can you expect? Let’s find out.

How Does Intel XeSS Work

XeSS renders games in a lower resolution and uses machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms to upscale the image to your native resolution. For instance, if you are playing a game at a 1440p resolution, XeSS will render all frames at a lower resolution (900p, 720p, 800p, depending on which quality/ mode you choose) and artificially enhance the image quality to make it look like 1440p. The upscaled image is similar to the native render, or better, in some cases.

Rendering frames at lower resolutions also gives you a huge performance uplift. Since your GPU doesn’t have to push as many physical pixels, it can instead focus its horsepower to produce more frames per second. If you have ever been a low-spec gamer, you know games run faster at lower resolutions (at the cost of image quality). However, with XeSS enabled, you get more frames for free without compromising on image quality. That’s a win-win situation, folks.

Intel XeSS Compatible GPU List

Unlike Nvidia DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling, Nvidia’s proprietary upscaling tech that only works with RTX series GPUs), Intel XeSS offers wider compatibility. XeSS is open-source and will work on any GPU that supports the DP4a instruction set. Below, we have enlisted Intel XeSS-compatible GPUs.

Nvidia GPU

  • GTX 10 series
  • GTX 16 series
  • RTX 20 series
  • RTX 30 series
  • RTX 40 series

AMD GPU

  • RX 5000 series 
  • RX 6000 series
  • RX 7000 series

Intel GPU

  • Intel Arc GPUs
  • Intel Xe-LP integrated GPUs (11th generation mobile CPUs and newer)
Image Credits: Intel

While XeSS works with all non-ancient graphics cards, its upscaling performance is significantly better on the Intel Arc A770 and A750. The higher-end Arc GPUs feature XMX (Xe Matrix Extension) cores, which are similar to the Tensor cores found in Nvidia GPUs, and work by providing more compute capability for AI-accelerated workloads. Thanks to the XMX cores, the Arc A770 and A750 can achieve better results with XeSS. If you’re a proud owner of a Team Blue GPU (that rhymes, huh?), you will be pleased with the performance boost that XeSS offers. 

Even if you don’t have an Intel Arc GPU, you will still get a decent jump in performance. However, I’d recommend trying out both Intel XeSS and AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (also available for a wide range of GPUs regardless of the brand) to see which offers better performance numbers. Check out our AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) coverage to know more. 

Intel XeSS Supported Games

The support for XeSS has grown significantly in the past few months, which is a good sign. However, compared to the competition, Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD’s FSR, the list is rather slim. Hopefully, we will see more AAA games on the list soon. Until then, find the list of games that currently support XeSS here:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II
Spider-Man Remastered
Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Dying Light 2
Hogwarts Legacy
Player Unknown's Battlegrounds
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Hitman III
Death Stranding
Gotham Knights
Marvel's Avengers
Need for Speed Unbound
Forsaken
Grid Legends
Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed
Farming Simulator 22
Ghostwire: Tokyo
Gungrave
Dysterra
Super People
Nightingale
Naraka: Bladepoint
The DioField Chronicle
Instinction
GRIT
Rift Breaker
Armageddon
Dolmen
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodhunt
The Settlers
Redout II
Chivalry II
Chorus
ANVIL
Judgment
Lost Judgment
Deadlink
Blacktail
Martha is Dead
Returnal
Night of the Dead
Conqueror's Blade
Propnight
Scathe
Myth of Empires
Deceive Inc.

How to Enable XeSS in Supported Games

It’s like flipping a switch (literally). If your game supports XeSS, navigate to its display/ graphics settings and click the “XeSS” toggle to enable it, as shown in the screenshot below. Some games will give you a confirmation prompt with a “Yes/ No” option. Select “Yes” in the pop-up window.

When you turn on XeSS, you will see another option to adjust the upscaling quality. You can set it to:

  • Performance: a significant increase in FPS with slightly reduced image quality
  • Balanced: solid boost in performance with minimal degradation of image quality
  • Quality: better image quality and a decent (but not huge) increase in performance
  • Ultra Quality: close to native image quality (or sometimes better), but the FPS increase won’t be as drastic. 

Intel XeSS: In-Game Performance

Chart Credits: Intel

With XeSS set to Performance mode, games like Hitman III and Ghostwire: Tokyo performed 2x better, which is terrific! Even some graphically demanding games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider saw a 1.4x increase in performance, jumping from 62 FPS to 87 FPS at 1440p maxed-out settings. Calling it impressive would be an understatement.

Chart Credits: Intel

However, not everyone wants to deal with the compromise on image quality. Let’s be realistic. If graphics quality didn’t matter, we would all be fine running 20-year-old games with character models that looked like potatoes. Sometimes, you want to enjoy the stunning visuals of your favorite AAA game.

Well, setting XeSS to Balanced mode will give you relatively better image quality, albeit with a slight reduction in FPS numbers. Here, Hitman III and Ghostwire: Tokyo performed 1.75x and 1.61x better than native, which is still fantastic! When you choose Quality and Ultra Quality modes, the performance will take a hit, and you may not see any improvement in frames per second.

Enhance Your Gameplay with Intel XeSS

In conclusion, Intel XeSS isn’t as powerful as Nvidia’s DLSS and doesn’t support as many games as AMD’s FSR. So, I recommend sticking with DLSS if you have an RTX 20, 30, or 40 series GPU. If you have an older Nvidia card (GTX 10 series & up) or an AMD card (RX 460 & up), FSR may give you slightly better performance (and game support). However, XeSS is still a new yet outstanding upscaling technology that will give up to 2x the performance on your existing graphics cards! I would strongly recommend taking advantage of it whenever you can. More frames for free is too good a deal to pass. Are you already using XeSS in-game? Did this article convince you to try it out? Do let us know in the comments below.

1 Comment

  1. I was playing Cyberpunk today after sometime. Seems like DLSS was not just slowing my game but there was a weird flickering during NPC phone calls so I turned of DLSS and turned on XESS to Balanced and was immediately slapped by a huge FPS boost. And this was with Ray Tracing set on max. Quite impressive.

Leave a Reply